2019 Ford Explorer vs. 2019 Mercedes GLE

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The middle row seatbelts optional on the Explorer inflate when a collision is detected, helping to spread crash forces over a much larger area of the body and limiting head and neck movement. This can help prevent spinal and internal injuries. The GLE doesn’t offer inflatable seatbelts.

To help make backing safer, the Explorer (except Base)’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The GLE doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the Explorer and the GLE have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, collision warning systems, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and front and rear parking sensors.

Warranty

Ford’s powertrain warranty covers the Explorer 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Mercedes covers the GLE. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the GLE ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are almost 8 times as many Ford dealers as there are Mercedes dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Explorer’s warranty.

Reliability

The Explorer has a standard “limp home system” to keep drivers from being stranded if most or all of the engine’s coolant is lost. The engine will run on only half of its cylinders at a time, reduce its power and light a warning lamp on the dashboard so the driver can get to a service station for repairs. The GLE doesn’t offer a lost coolant limp home mode, so a coolant leak could strand you or seriously damage the truck’s engine.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Explorer third among midsize SUVs in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The GLE isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Ford vehicles are better in initial quality than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Ford fifth in initial quality, above the industry average. With 11 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 15th.

Fuel Economy and Range

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Ford Explorer uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended on Explorer Sport/Platinum for maximum performance). The GLE requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Explorer has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The GLE doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping

The Explorer stops shorter than the GLE:

Explorer

GLE

70 to 0 MPH

166 feet

172 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

123 feet

126 feet

Motor Trend

Suspension and Handling

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Explorer is 2 inches wider in the front and 1.5 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the GLE.

The Explorer Sport 4WD handles at .83 G’s, while the AMG GLE 43 pulls only .77 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Explorer Limited 4WD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.1 seconds quicker than the GLE (27.7 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 29.8 seconds @ .57 average G’s).

Chassis

The Ford Explorer may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 100 to 350 pounds less than the Mercedes GLE.

The front grille of the Explorer uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The GLE doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

As tested by Car and Driver while at idle, the interior of the Explorer Sport 4WD is quieter than the AMG GLE 43 (37 vs. 38 dB).

Passenger Space

The Explorer offers optional seating for 7 passengers; the GLE can only carry 5.

The Explorer has 48.5 cubic feet more passenger volume than the GLE (151.5 vs. 103).

The Explorer has 2.5 inches more front headroom, 2.6 inches more front legroom, 3 inches more front shoulder room, 2.1 inches more rear headroom, 1.1 inches more rear legroom and 2.6 inches more rear shoulder room than the GLE.

Cargo Capacity

The Explorer’s cargo area provides more volume than the GLE.

Explorer

GLE

Third Seat Folded

43.9 cubic feet

n/a

Third Seat Removed

n/a

38.2 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

81.7 cubic feet

80.3 cubic feet

The Explorer’s cargo area is larger than the GLE’s in almost every dimension:

Explorer

GLE

Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)

19.7”/49”/79.8”

n.a./39.5”/68”

Max Width

48”

49”

Min Width

40”

40.5”

Height

45.5”

35.5”

Pressing a switch automatically lowers or raises the Explorer Sport/Platinum’s optional second and third row seats, to make changing between cargo and passengers easier. The GLE doesn’t offer automatic folding second row seats.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Explorer’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The GLE doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Ergonomics

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Explorer XLT/Limited/Sport/Platinum’s exterior keypad. The GLE doesn’t offer an exterior keypad entry system, and its Mercedes-Benz Emergency Call can’t unlock the doors if the vehicle doesn’t have cell phone reception or the driver can’t contact the service.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Explorer has a standard rear variable intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the GLE only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

Model Availability

The Explorer is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The GLE doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Explorer owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Explorer will cost $600 to $4330 less than the GLE over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Explorer is less expensive to operate than the GLE because it costs $146 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Explorer than the GLE, including $383 less for a water pump, $39 less for a muffler, $167 less for front brake pads, $469 less for a starter, $380 less for fuel injection, $96 less for a fuel pump, $323 less for front struts and $168 less for a power steering pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Ford Explorer will be $14755 to $15101 less than for the Mercedes GLE.

Recommendations

The Ford Explorer outsold the Mercedes GLE by almost six to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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